Indian-born maestro / SAT 9-24-16 / Electron's area around atom / Capital of French department of Loiret / smokeless explosive / like safeties vis a vis field goals / Italian food named after queen

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Medium (probably Easy if you knew Malala's last name)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Stanislaw LEM (44A: Science fiction author Stanislaw) —
Stanisław Herman Lem (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf ˈlɛm]; 12 September 1921 – 27 March 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire, and a trained physician. Lem's books have been translated into forty-one languages and have sold over forty-five million copies.  From the 1950s to 2000s, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological. He is best known as the author of the 1961 novel Solaris, which has been made into a feature film three times. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon wrote that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the world. // Lem's works explore philosophical themes through speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations, and humanity's place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books // Translations of his works are difficult due to passages with elaborate word formation, alien or robotic poetry, and puns. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey all. First I want to thank Lena for filling in for me yesterday—cable was out, internet was out, my life reverted to some kind of weird 1970s state because all I could do was read and watch "The Bob Newhart Show" (which I happen to have on DVD). Wait, no, it wasn't quite 1970s, because home *phone* was out too, so my only lifeline was my cell. I did the crossword puzzle in the actual newsPaper. It would all have been just fine if not for the fact that I do this thing with the "internet" every single night. Soooo, Lena to the rescue. Fully intended to blog today's puzzle last night, right when it came out, but cocktail + "King Kong" (1933) put me right to sleep at some ridiculously early hour (actually "King Kong" was remarkably good, if unintentionally funny—but I was fighting sleep the whole time, and when it was over, Good Night). And so to puzzle. Morning solving is always slower solving, but even though I didn't get 1-Across off the bat (surest sign of an easy puzzle), I got the NW without too much trouble, sent ALL KIDDING ASIDE sliding down the western part of the grid, and felt pretty good about my chances:

ANAIS (6D: Writer Nin) and "PSYCHO" (7D: Classic film whose soundtrack is famously composed entirely of strings) were flat-out gimmes, so that helped get me going. But you can see where trouble lies ahead for me. With apologies to MALALA, every letter of her last name was a mystery to me. I'm quite sure I've seen and heard it multiple times, but since she's known almost exclusively as MALALA (see, for instance, the title of her book, "I Am MALALA"), that last name never sank in. And sure enough, the NE ended up taking me longer than all other parts put together. But there were problems much further south than YOUSAFZAI. For instance, my inability to spell MARGHERITA (I came at that answer from the back, with -RITA, and thought maybe it was the pizza but only wanted to spell MARGARITA thusly; as in "The Mistress and the ___" or "I'll have another ___"). So the simple 50A: Hold (DEEM) was in no way possible. Oh, and after guessing MEHTA correctly (46A: Indian-born Maestro), I took that "M" and made VROOM (29D: Engine sound => THRUM). Big problem.

Never heard of "Love is Strange" so ultra-common TOMEI had no shot. The worst problem in all this, though, was SCULPTOR (8D: One going around the block?). That clue is clever but hyper-oblique. I had ---LPT-- and could not see it as one word. Seriously considered that in the morgue sometimes they instead of a toe tag they used a SCALP TAG. Yikes. eventually I figured out the PIZZA problem, confirming the "Z" with ZIN (21A: Cab alternative), and that section started to come together (though SCULPTOR held out til the bitter end).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Kitchen drawers? / FRI 9-23-16 / Give a raise? / Film setting / Openings in the computer field?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Easy

Yup that's supposed to be a D but I'm not re-filling in this grid and taking another screen shot


Word of the Day: BOETHIUS (11D: "The Consulation of Philosophy" author) —

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius,[1][2] commonly called Boethius[3] (English: /bˈθiəs/; also Boetius /bˈʃəs/; c. 480–524 AD), was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born four years after Odoacer deposed the last Roman Emperor and declared himself King of Italy, and entered public service under Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and executed him in 524 on charges of conspiracy to overthrow him.[4] While jailed, Boethius composed his Consolation of Philosophy, a philosophical treatise on fortune, death, and other issues, which became one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages. (Wikipedia)
• • •

It seems Rex found himself staring into the inky void of a technological blackout last night (no, he didn't pass out and spill whiskey on his computer, into his USBPORT-- it's a cable outage), so it's Lena here to wish you a happy Friday.

And so it is. This was a fun solve for me, and a quick one too.  I scooted through the North and thought "hey hey slow down, puzzle, quit being so easy and intuitive." Remember my last sub-in post? So fun. But yeah that was also an Andrew Zhou puzzle! Maybe there are cosmic Crossworld forces afoot.

SHOCK JOCK (1A: One making waves over the waves) went in first, although I entertained SURF-something for a few seconds. SURFCELEB? "Shock jocks" were mentioned in a clue in Chris King's latest puzzle, so it was fresh in my brain on some level. WOMANIZING towering over INANIMATE OBJECT is pretty great, and the clue on the latter is both straightforward and clever: (17A: It has no life).

Lots and lots of good fill, which always makes a soupçon of classic crosswordese more obvious-- ERNE ZEES UTE IBAR. Now that that's out of the way, let's pack up the car and take a trip to Natick.

BOETHIUS (11D: "The Consolation of Philosophy" author) crossing ROCHE (23A: Company that makes Tamiflu) must have tripped some folks up. Speed-sovling darling Austin Burns wasn't sure of that H in their crossing but ultimately guessed correctly:

I knew ROCHE but that's because I ordered thousands of dollars worth of antibodies from them in grad school. My problem was entirely BOETHIUS. I ordered antibodies from ROCHE and in my spare time didn't read philosophy. I know the heavy-hitters well enough, but BOETHIUS seems awfully underground, awfully "indie," as Philosophers go. And if you're clueless like me, there's no real indication that "The Consulation of Philosophy might be the work of ANCIENTS like (12A: Aeschylus, Sophoclese and Aristophanes) so that you don't start getting nervous when a funky ancient name starts to appear. 

But the rest of the long fill really is very good: YOUVE BEEN SERVED, SCREENTIME, USB PORTS, AUTOTUNE

Oh, and FOAMCORE may be (34D: Material for mounting photos), but it is also now my new favorite rock genre.  

And speaking of music, enjoy some Joe Jackson-- this one goes out to Rex!

Signed, Lena Webb, Court Jester of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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